President Erdoğan hosts Russia’s defense minister

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Turkish President Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (C) meets Chief of the General Staff of the Turkish Armed Forces Hulusi Akar (R-3) and Russian defense minister Sergey Shoygu (L-5) at Tarabya Presidential Campus (Huber Villa) in Istanbul, Turkey on July 2, 2017. Turkish Presidency / Murat Cetinmuhurdar / Anadolu Agency

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan held talks with Russian Federation Defense Minister Sergey Kuzhugetovich Shoygu on Sunday at the Tarabya Presidential Palace in İstanbul, CNN Türk reported.

Shoygu’s visit takes place following a recent exchange of fire between the Turkish military and Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) militants in the Afrin region of Syria, where Russia has troops, and a phone call between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Erdoğan in which they discussed the Syrian crisis on Friday.

Chief of General Staff Gen. Hulusi Akar and Turkish National Intelligence Organization (MIT) Undersecretary Hakan Fidan also attended the meeting between Erdoğan and Shoygu.

According to a statement from the Kremlin, Putin and Erdoğan discussed solutions to the crisis within the framework of the next Astana talks to be held July 4-5 between Syrian parties and moderated by Turkey, Iran and Russia.

Presidential sources also said Putin and Erdoğan have agreed to a face-to-face meeting during the G-20 summit in Hamburg on July 7-8.

The Astana talks began on Jan. 23 after Putin and Erdoğan in December discussed with Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev the possibility of holding a meeting in Astana between the warring parties in the Syrian conflict. Putin said the leaders of Turkey, Iran, Syria and Russia were prepared to start peace talks.

The cease-fire has been repeatedly violated, with each side blaming the other, while fighting with jihadist groups such as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and other armed groups, which are not included in the truce, has raged on.

Kurdish rebel group the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) and its armed wing, the YPG, which controls most areas of northern Syria, are being excluded from the talks in line with the wishes of Turkey.

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